One day a Virtuoso Travel Agent told us: “If you suggest a winery in Tuscany where my clients can go without bumping in to ten other groups of Americans, you will become my favorite insiders”. We took it to the T. In fact, it is enough to move a little from the borders of Chianti to find quiet areas, where hospitality is seriously genuine and local, where good things are not needed to attract tourists but to satisfy those who live there.
An example is the Valdichiana, between Siena and Arezzo. These cultivated hills rich with medieval towns, endless vineyards, hot springs, poetic scenic roads and and cocooning shelters have nothing on its famous neighbour, and here is why.
where to sleep
Villa San Sanino, torrita di siena
Slow, intimate, authentic. This eighteenth century farmhouse was purchased in 1992 by Ubaldo and Laura who restored the property and in 2012 converted it, with the help of their son Giacomo and daughter Bianca, into a family run boutique hotel with just four rooms. More than a hotel, Villa San Sanino feels like home into which the family, who lives on the premises, warmly welcomes you. WEBSITE
Italian craftsmanship is going through a moment of great revival, with young people who take over the family activities and revolutionise them. In this beautiful corner of Tuscany you will find many wrought iron workshops and laboratories, painting, jewels and leather good stores who produce objects made to last, despite fashion, and created in compliance with people and the territory.
what to see
The Church of SS. Flora and Lucilla
The Church of SS. Flora and Lucilla in Torrita can be considered a small museum. Romanesque church erected in the 13th century, preserves fragments of frescoes and jewels of pictorial art of the Florentine School of the 1400s, of Benvenuto di Giovanni, Taddeo di Bartolo and Bartolo di Fredi. It also houses the bezel marble The blood of the Redeemer attributed to Donatello (1430).
An ancient abbey inhabited over the centuries by Benedictine monks. Built in the 12th century, is considered one of the masterpieces of medieval architecture. Harmony of the architecture and the refinement of the decorative elements have become an expression of the canon of true beauty.
National Archaeological Museum of Chiusi
It houses Etruscan, Roman and Lombard finds, a journey from Prehistory to the Middle Ages with ceramics, sculptures, ornaments in gold and silver, the canopi of Chiusi, (urns painted and decorated in relief), Etruscan goldsmithing, the grave goods from the Tomb of the Pania, the splendid urns in marble and alabaster. From the Roman period, an exceptional portrait of Augustus and the mosaic with hunting scenes from the villa of Montevenere. From the museum it is possible to reach the necropolis of Poggio Renzo and visit the tombs of Leone, della Pellegrina and those with splendid pictorial representations of the Monkey and Colle Casuccini.
WHAT TO DO
Lucciola bella is a serpentine road flanked by cypresses, very close to Montepulciano. (There are also many dirt roads for bucolic walking). Along the way, detour to the Vitaleta Chapel, small and private on the top of a hill: it has become the icon of the Val di Chiana since it was photographed for the cover of National Geographic magazine. You can then return from the Strada del Gladiatore, a scenic route in the Terrapille countryside.
TRENO NATURA DELLA VAL D’ORCIA
Take a historic train at Asciano station and enjoy the slow journey up to Monte Antico: 51.2 km through the heart of authentic and rural Tuscany, connecting the lands of Siena and Grosseto. WEBSITE